Re: MD Is Morality Relative?

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Fri Dec 03 2004 - 21:50:26 GMT

  • Next message: Ian Glendinning: "Re: MD Is Morality Relative?"

    Holiday Greetings Ham,

    > > "Everything is Quality" is axiomatic. You can't deny it without admitting
    > > it, for your denial will assert the quality of truth.
    > I don't follow your logic here, Platt. If I deny that everything is
    > Quality I am admitting it? How so?

    Wouldn't you agree that your denial is true, and that truth is a value,
    i.e., a moral quality?

    > > I define virtuous conduct as enlightened self-interest.
    > Not that there's anything wrong with that, although I'm not clear as to
    > what "enlightened" adds to your moral system.

    It means you take into account more than what is in front of you at the
    moment. You weigh long term consequences before you act.

    > The point is, if your
    > self-interest is not depriving the other person of his, your actions are
    > moral. If there is a "moral absolute" here, it is to not offend the
    > person(s) you are dealing with. That is, so long as he is doing you no
    > harm. Doesn't this make sense? Or am I oversimplifying morality?

    Well, "offend" and "harm" can lead to moral mischief as someone can claim
    to be "offended" by all sorts of imagined insults. Women used to swoon at
    bad manners. That scourge of a free society, political correctness, is
    based on tip-toeing around groups who claim to be victims in order to
    extort special favors from society. But if you mean initiating physical
    violence against another who poses no physical threat to you, I agree that
    would be immoral.

    > I see morality as an 'ad hominum' proposition. We serve our self-interests
    > through our social and entrepreneurial transactions. It's essentially
    > pragmatic. Good morality works; immorality doesn't.

    You assume morality applies only to relationships between people. Pirsig's
    metaphysics is based on morality that applies to everything, and what's
    more, is the driving force behind creation and evolution. By expanding
    the common meaning of morality to include everything from atomic particles
    to Rachmaniov's Third Piano Concerto, I think maybe he's got ahold of

    Maybe it would help to bring your philosophy and Pirsig's closer together
    if we all could agree with him that Quality, morality and value all mean
    the same thing, i.e. some things are better than others.

    > > On what basis should we judge an act to be "terrible."
    > When an act offends another. In patterntalk, certainly taking a life must
    > be the "highest level" of "low quality".

    Not in self-defense it isn't. Nor is it when defending intellectual
    freedom against attack by biological barbarians, such as Islamic

    > > Taking responsibility and suffering the consequences of one's bad choices
    > > provides an excellent moral formula for "the good of humanity" because,
    > > as you rightly point out, it insures freedom--the highest good in the
    > > MOQ.
    > We seem to be in agreement here, as usual. Yet I see your reluctance to
    > accept "relativity" as a condition of morality. I'd really like to find a
    > logical argument in support of moral absolutism. If you have one, I'll mail
    > it to Edington. Otherwise, he and I are of the opinion that moral
    > relativity is the only morality there is. (And he's a theist!)
    Well, if you don't buy my argument that the good minister spouts all sorts
    of moral absolutes ("morality must be based on respect, care and love")
    that contradict his relativistic stance, you might try to send him some
    writings by Immanual Kant who concluded that absolute moral laws do exist
    as found in the structure of the human mind. Just as 2 + 2 is always 4,
    there are moral "rules of thought" which are a priori and therefore
    universal and absolute. You probably are familiar with his "categorical
    imperative" -- "Act only on the maxim whereby thou canst at the same time
    will it should become universal law."


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